AC/DC
Black Ice


1.0
awful

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
October 20th, 2008 | 119 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Back in grey, AC/DC deliver a rockin' amount of mediocrity.

What do you do once you’ve done it all?

This might seem like the most ridiculous question, but think about it for just a minute. It’s a question that quite a few bands have had to put to themselves in recent years. The kind of bands that perhaps your parents grew up listening to that, in 2008, are most probably the kind of acts that Bart Simpson may refer to as “dinosaur bands”. It’s certainly a fearful question for a band to ask, and not one that is always answered in the most rational way. The Eagles answered it with a double album that, once a few layers of cheese was removed, proved to feature some of their best work. The Rolling Stones answered it with some more solid touring, some more rehab and a surprisingly formidable release in A Bigger Bang. Neil Young answered it by doing it all over again. Toto answered it by breaking up.

In typical, stubborn “Aussie” fashion, AC/DC have answered the question by doing just what they have done for nigh-on thirty years with Brian Johnson at the helm- they’ve made another AC/DC album. This may seem unsurprising, but the reason this has been brought up is the amount of time it has taken them to do this. Eight years have passed since the dross of Stiff Upper Lip, leading fans to expect a great return to form after such a lengthy sabbatical. Ultimately, however, what fans are about to find out is that AC/DC haven’t been hard at work at all. As a matter of fact, Black Ice could well be the laziest thing the band have ever done. Uninspired, mindless and often quite ugly, this is the sound of a band on its very, very last legs.

The most difficult thing about dissecting Black Ice is the fact there are positively no highlights whatsoever in its fifty-plus minutes. Certainly, this is the exact same AC/DC we have come to know since the untimely death of Bon Scott. Any possible life found within the band’s music, however, has been sucked completely dry. There is nothing present on the album that the band have not already attempted, and done so in a far more interesting way.

There is quite possibly no better example of this than lead single “Rock & Roll Train”- the first of four tracks to mention either “Rock & Roll” or “Rocking” in its title, already an indicator of just how much thought the album has had put into it. Over a limp reshuffling of “Highway to Hell”, Brian Johnson tells us the ridiculous and inane tale of “one hot angel” and “one cool devil”. Topped off with a solo that Angus Young most likely came up with on the spot, the zombie-like backbeat of drummer Phillip Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams, as well as a decidedly anticlimactic chorus, this song is a four-minute summation of everything that is wrong with the bulk of AC/DC’s Johnson-lead era. There is no driving force or passion behind this regurgitation of music that was not exactly formidable to begin with. The only possible reason that comes to mind is for increased ticket sales to an upcoming tour that the band would most likely sell out regardless of a new release.

Another issue with the songs is their general lack of purpose or meaning. Whilst it is simple to just enjoy some good-time rock’n’roll without worrying too much about these things, one really does worry when the only insight comes from the chorus, where the song’s title will be repeated in either Johnson’s high-pitched shriek (“Spoilin’ For A Fight”) or barked by backing vocalists (“War Machine”). There are also major issues with Johnson’s vocals, that sound particularly awful and harsh to the ears throughout Black Ice, as he creepily rasps through gritted teeth about the most mundane and over done rock lyric topics known to man. Not even that, however, can compete with the particularly dreadful backing vocals. Look no further for evidence than “She Likes Rock ‘n’ Roll”- with yet another recycled lick, the ears are unwillingly penetrated by the sound of the chant “She is rock ‘n’ roll/She is rock ‘n’ roll/She is rock ‘n’ roll/I like rock ‘n’ roll”. No kidding.

These factors culminate in what will hopefully be remembered as AC/DC’s lowest point. Every single song bleeds into one another to the point where you are consistently checking that one song has finished and another has begun. The only reasons one could possibly be anything but incredibly bored and incredibly annoyed with Black Ice are that the listener is fifteen years of age or younger, yet to be exposed to the glory days of T.N.T, Powerage and Highway To Hell, or that the listener is very, very easily impressed.
Yes, it’s been eight long years. But nothing has changed in the world of AC/DC, and you will find yourself questioning why you ever even thought it might have.



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user ratings (711)
Chart.
2.7
average
other reviews of this album
Pedro B. (3.5)
It was worth the eight-year wait....

Mike Stagno EMERITUS (2)
Though Black Ice panders completely to the band's fans, there is some reputable material to be found...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Auldy
October 20th 2008


351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I agree with some parts of this review. Particularily AC/DC's refusal to re-invent the wheel. But when you think about it, do you really think AC/DC would have the capacity to actually do that? But I think your rating is a little to harsh here. AC/DC are just doing what the have been doing for their entire career, that being to rewrite the same riff with subtle variations to create a new song that listeners can bob their heads to, they have still created an album that is listenable, perhaps mediocre, and definately not brilliant. 2.5 for me

AtavanHalen
October 20th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

I probably would have given it your rating on first listen.
But then I just got angry.

badtaste
October 20th 2008


824 Comments


Album has been receiving good reviews in the local media.

Your dashes still annoy the heck out of me. Good review though.This Message Edited On 10.20.08

Meatplow
October 20th 2008


5524 Comments


Good review.

They've stuck to their guns throughout their whole career, expecting AC/DC to so something different is insanity. But, y'know, they know what they do best and ballsy bogan rock will never die for the AC/DC fans.

I would think it unfair to pay out on them too much, they aren't pretentious at least.

AtavanHalen
October 20th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Your dashes still annoy the heck out of me.

Yeah, you didn't explain it last time, it's not going to change this time.

Auldy
October 20th 2008


351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Imagine how an AC/DC album would sound if it had profound social commetary or political undertones? It just doesnt computeThis Message Edited On 10.20.08

badtaste
October 20th 2008


824 Comments


You didn't seem capable of googling, so I just let it go.

Meatplow
October 20th 2008


5524 Comments


Imagine how an AC/DC song would sound if it had profound social commetary or political undertones? It just doesnt compute


rock and roll dreams
free the tampa refugees!!!!!

Auldy
October 20th 2008


351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I meant to say album... edited

HighandDriving
October 20th 2008


3288 Comments


"I don't remember hearing AC/DC sing about letting other dudes beat up on their girlfriends."

-Emo Kid from South Park

Meatplow
October 20th 2008


5524 Comments


she's on the gravy train
all the way to spain
fight the spanish inquisition
with that sexy brain

Auldy
October 20th 2008


351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Phillip Rudd and Malcom Young look terrible in the album booklet. Malcom almost looks sickly, so skinny in that singlet. Old skinny men shouldnt wear tight black jeans, big leather work boots and a black wife-beater shirt like that

Meatplow
October 20th 2008


5524 Comments


well they've never been about sex appeal y'know

Auldy
October 20th 2008


351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah sorry to deviate from the music there. But isnt sex appeal the backbone to pop and rock?

Meatplow
October 20th 2008


5524 Comments


of course, but their sex appeals stems entirely from

HIGH!

VOLTAGE!

ROCK n' ROLL!
This Message Edited On 10.20.08

HighandDriving
October 20th 2008


3288 Comments


Sex appeal is the backbone for all music genre minus metal cause they're no good looking metalheads.

Auldy
October 20th 2008


351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I felt disenchanted just looking at the tracklisting on the back before I even put it in my player. Sure AC/DC are stalwarts of Rock n Roll, but having four titles:
- Rock n Roll Train
- She Likes Rock n Roll
- Rock n Roll Dream
- Rocking all the Way
thats just overkill, especially when compared with the dozens of other AC/DC tracks on other albums that make reference to Rock n Roll. How hard would it be to think up better, or alternate titles?

DeathGrinder
October 20th 2008


152 Comments


1 are you out of your mind??

rasputin
October 20th 2008


14544 Comments


AC/DC are so bland.

bastard
October 20th 2008


3435 Comments


AC/DC are so bland.




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